1. Walk Malta
Everywhere you end up in Malta there is something older than you’ve ever seen before. Exploring is the absolute best way to see this country and walking guarantees you stumble upon the unknown to the average tourist. It’s safe, accessible, and you can always find someone who speaks English to help you get along. Just remember that Malta can get very hot, so get the number of a taxi just in case you decide to make it a one way journey.
Being in Senglea is like being swept 50 years back in time. The locals schmooze outside at any time of day, there are no chain stores, shops are owned by the locals, and everyone is happy to meet you. At night the children come outside and play near the water while the parents sit at the few restaurants, on the small main street, chatting or playing bingo. Everyone seems to know everyone and when you get there, you too can’t help but feel relaxed and join in their life with no worries. Senglea is also know as La Isla, although it’s close it feels so far removed from the rest of Malta, becoming your own little peninsula paradise.
***Oh and in the main square, the last stop on the bus route to Senglea, there is free wifi, but beware, it feels weird to be on your Ipad in the middle of a place with buildings older than your great grandparents.
Diving in Malta is said to be outrageous and one of the best places in the world to go under the sea. It’s accessible from everywhere and there are tons of companies going out daily offering package tours. Some companies will pick you up from your hotel, although Malta is so tiny that a ride shouldn’t make or break your decision on who to go with. There are courses to get your licence and courses for people who have never gone for a dive in their life, there’s something for everyone; the timid and the brave. Make sure you call ahead of time and do your research, expeditions book up and don’t run if the water visibility is low.
So impressive, Malta’s temples were once said to be made by giants themselves, moving stones so big, that only humans bigger than life could have created them. Incredible! This tiny island boasts over 5000 years of gigantic history and has the well preserved, super hardcore, megalithic temples to prove it. Don’t even try to imagine it, because you can’t, the pictures don’t do it justice and the websites are only good for telling you how to get there. And, the best part is, even if you aren’t a history buff, you’ll still feel eerily connected to the ingenuity of our neolithic ancestors.
To get to Gozo you have to take a bus or car all the way to the northern part of the island. Even though Malta is small, this can take a while, so plan to spend the whole day in Gozo. If you take public transportation you can take the ferry across and use buses throughout. A better suggestion, though, would be to rent a car for the day. Cars are cheap split among friends and the ferry takes cars to Gozo as well. This way you can explore Ramla Bay (red sands), see the Azure Window (pictured above), visit a temple, and go for a swim, you can find a spot just about anywhere along the coast.
*** There’s a gorgeous inlet a bit removed from the Azure Window where few people are found swimming. If you are looking at the sea walk up past the fort on your left until you are at the top and you will find it, if you are having trouble ask the guy at the 1 and only restaurant there. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you’ll be sharing this space with a mega yacht left to be wondering which celebrity knows the same secret as you do.
Rabbit is a local delicacy and although it may not seem like your dish of choice you have to eat it while in Malta. It’s not ironically like chicken and the Bugs Bunny pictures on the menu really help you understand who/what you are consuming. You cannot get to this restaurant at night with public transportation, so take a car, or go during the day by bus. The owners will kindly help you because just like everyone in Malta they are happy. Make a reservation too, you don’t want to rock up and find there’s no bunny for your tummy.
At the northern part of the island of Malta, picturesquely set with crystal clear turquoise water, golden sand, and steep white cliffs as far as the eye can see, lies the popular Golden Bay Beach. After visiting beaches all around Malta, it was quite a difficult time choosing it’s favorite, until, Golden Bay. It’s popular for visitors and families alike, but for a reason, because it’s wonderful. If you don’t have the money to para-glide or jet ski, rent a paddle boat for an hour or two and make like explorers. Paddle to the right and all of a sudden you’ve found your own paradise in between the rocks of the bay. Bring goggles to snorkel and some aqua socks if you feel so incline to climb like so many before you. But, most importantly, get there, relax and soak in the ultimate beauty of Malta.
You know when you are looking up Malta and the first image you see is a small, colorful, fishing boat in clear blue water? That’s the little village of Marsaxlokk. You can take a bus or inexpensive taxi to the south of Malta to find it. And, try your best to go on Sunday when the fish market is on. If you are looking for souvenirs, Mediterranean food, fruit, veggies, underwear, or anything at all, head down to Marsaxlokk’s market, grab lunch, and chat with the locals.
When in Valletta you feel swept away into a fairy tale. You enter through a narrow corridor magically taking you back in time. Valletta’s architecture is stunning and wandering around is the best way to go. You feel lost and whimsical at the same time. Your Knight in shining armor is at every corner, literally. They can actually be found by searching for the Knights of St. John; real live Knights who walked the streets of Valletta. Explore, go to a church or two, visit the Barrakka Gardens, eat Italian food or a Maltese pie, and make sure you stay for some of the fireworks Malta is famous for. Everything in Valletta closes when it gets dark and everyone goes home. Don’t try to plan your evening in Valletta, you’ll be sadly disappointed. The main bus station is there, so no matter where you go or where you’ve come from, you will end up in Valletta, just like everyone else in history has.
Want to go party; stay out till all hours of the night? Start by getting dinner in St. Julian’s, if you are already little drunk a shawarma place might do, but if you are looking for something finer, St Julian’s has that too. It’s pumping day and night. While the rest of Malta shuts down after 1 am, Paceville is still going. Pick a club, any club, they are all in a row, like one big college Hollywood movie. Get your high heels on, throw on a nice pair of slacks, and spend the night parting with the Maltese at one of their open air clubs, they’ve been practicing for thousands of years and have really got it right.